Using CNC Manufacturing to Create Custom FRP Products

CNC Pultruded TubingCNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders.

CNC Dome LidThe CNC process is relatively straightforward.  First, a CAD drawing is created (either 2D or 3D), second, a code is created that the CNC machine will understand. The program is loaded and finally an operator runs a test of the program to ensure there are no problems. This trial run is referred to as “cutting air” and it is an important step because any mistake with speed and tool position could result in a scraped part or a damaged machine.

CNC Mold1The upfront cost of CNC machines can be steep, but the long-term advantages of employing CNC technology for the manufacturing of precision FRP products, far outweighs the initial cost. 

Many end users of FRP products look for someone who can guide them to the most efficient production approach, one that saves time, money, and resources—CNC manufacturing is one piece to that puzzle. Here are some of the advantages of using CNC manufacturing to create custom FRP products.

  1. Precision—Once the design is programmed into the CNC machine it can be repeated hundreds or even thousands of times with a high degree of accuracy.  A CNC machine will produce replications that are an exact match and there will be no variation from component to component—thus eliminating human error and fatigue.
  2. Adaptability—Not only are CNC machines capable of handling a wide range of designs and materials from wood, metal, plastic, pultruded composites, and FRP—just to name a few.  In addition, CNC machines are capable of creating complex 3D shapes that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve by a skilled machinist. 
  3. Programmability—CNC machines can be programmed by advanced design software, enabling the manufacture of products that cannot be made by manual machines, even those used by skilled designers / engineers.
  4. CNC Man Way LidSaves Time and Money—Modern design software allows the designer to simulate the manufacture of his/her idea. There is no need to make a prototype or a model. This saves time and money.  One person can supervise many CNC machines as once they are programmed they can usually be left to work by themselves.
  5. Low Maintenance—CNC machines can be used continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and only need to be switched off for occasional maintenance. Their reliability, precision, ease of operation and adaptability ensure that the end user gets a cost-effective approach to their design.

At Beetle, our comprehensive capabilities include CNC manufacturing, open molding (hand lay-up and spray-up), precision molding and tooling, filament winding, vacuum infusion, equipment rebuilding, on-site modifications and custom manufacturing/fabrication.  We have over 50 years experience in fiberglass—in that time we’ve developed unmatched dedicated design and field services that enable us to guide you to the most efficient production approach.